#1
I got a fear that I'll never be able to learn to read music, guitar or any other instrument. I've been playing for nearly 5 years, with tab and mostly by ear now, and I've only just decided to try learn. The thing is, it's so hard because I just keep working out the tune by ear, especially if it's one I know, and then making the notes on the page useless.
I'm learning the cello as well at the moment hoping that will help but I do the same ear thing on it I'm sixteen and my music teacher always tells me if I'm ever gonna learn to read it should be now, and I'm worried I'm running out of time. Has anyone got any tips or got any knowledge you can give me if you were/are in a similar position? Any help will be much appreciated. Thanks
#2
You aren't running out of time but you have to practice it EVERY DAY. I didn't start till I was 17 and I can read very well now. Find a new piece of music every day and just read it. Something you aren't familiar with and give it a 30 second look over and then try to play it. Do this every day, or better yet, multiple times a day. You will get better.

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#3
Well, all I can say is, while your music teacher might be right about many things, this thing with "If you want to learn it you should do it now" is simply his opinion on the matter, and he's probably saying it in attempt to motivate you. If people who start re-educating themselves in their late 30's can get some astro-physics diplomas, then there's no way you can't ever learn to read sheet music if you don't do it right now. Take it easy, take your time. It'll take practice, and for different people it takes different amounts of time to learn, but eventually, you'll get there.
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#4
Quote by Torn_Asunder
I just keep working out the tune by ear, especially if it's one I know, and then making the notes on the page useless.
I have exactly the same problem, except that I read standard notation since I'm 13.

I play the piano (not very good though) and I automatically memorise the score. I play pieces by Bach and Beethoven of three to five pages long completely by heart. My teacher is going ballistic. She keeps telling me it would be easier if I read the notes while I play, but to me it's extremely hard to read and coordinate both my hands at the same time. And still I think she is right.

Has anyone got any tips or got any knowledge you can give me if you were/are in a similar position? Any help will be much appreciated. Thanks
There is a difference between reading music and decyphering music. The difference is the speed you do it at. But the easiest way to learn to read notes is to sing them. Your voice (even if you can't sing very well) is the easiest instrument you can play, so it is one thing less to concentrate on.

Start with easy tunes. Sing along with the tune but sing the notes instead of the lyrics. In Europe each note is given a name instead of a letter. A for instance is la. C is do and D is re. So singing Twinkle twinkle little star goes like: la la do do re re do...

I have no idea how you do it in the States though.

Also, singing along to tunes helps your pitch recognition. But I've got a feeling that you must already have a very accurate hearing.
#5
Quote by Torn_Asunder
I got a fear that I'll never be able to learn to read music, guitar or any other instrument. I've been playing for nearly 5 years, with tab and mostly by ear now, and I've only just decided to try learn. The thing is, it's so hard because I just keep working out the tune by ear, especially if it's one I know, and then making the notes on the page useless.
I'm learning the cello as well at the moment hoping that will help but I do the same ear thing on it I'm sixteen and my music teacher always tells me if I'm ever gonna learn to read it should be now, and I'm worried I'm running out of time. Has anyone got any tips or got any knowledge you can give me if you were/are in a similar position? Any help will be much appreciated. Thanks



Go to my Lessons. Click on my name, look at my Contributions Tab, and read the Throw the Boy Down the Well Series. Apparently its caused a lot of people to understand things faster.

The ironic thing is, that I created it specifically for UG. I don't even teach this at the Academy, but it sure seems to help a lot of people. If you like my insight into taking an old thing and making it simple to understand, you might like to know I have created an entire system for learning, understanding and applying it to the guitar...that anyone can take online. It's not free, but it has transformed hundreds of guitar players into understanding musicians.

PM me if you have any questions.

Best,

Sean
#6
If you're used to working things out by ear a great transitional exercise is to just sit down ten minutes a day listening to a piece of music with score in hand, following what's going on. You can find scores at imslp.org.

Try to practice sight singing as well as reading on your instrument (or both at the same time ... why not?) and you'll be literate in no time.

But remember: your teacher's teacher's teacher still practices his sight reading every day. And gets better at it.
#7
It just takes patience and practice, I started learning last year and I never thought i'd get the hang of it, but if you just do a little everyday and don't expect immediate and fantastic results then you will get better - I'm no Mozart but I can now read sheet music and, given enough time, easily transpose it onto a guitar.

Things you should do:

If you're not familiar with your fretboard, then make that your first priority. There are plenty of programs out there like Fretboard Warrior which specifically train your fluency with the fretboard, have a look on google if you need to practice this.

Next, you need to be familiar with your new friends, the Treble and bass clef (more so the treble, but couldn't hurt to learn bass too)

http://www.teoria.com/exercises/read.htm

Use that for clef reading exercises, it has custom settings so you can make it as easy/challenging as you like. This is good to play for 10 minutes a day or so, it won't solve all your problems, but it's gonna get you off on the right foot.

Next, print off, or look at, some simple pieces of sheet music (Twinkle Twinkle Little Star for e.g.) and learn the notes - just study the music the write down the name of the note underneath. It is difficult to focus because it looks so simple and boring and you'll probably be eager to to just play by ear, fight your urges and just knuckle down - it's boring you might aswell start sometime, right?

Once you're competent with both the fret board and the staves you'll have to start learning the language. That Teoria website I mentioned above has a lot of lessons made easy to get you up to date with the fundementals (time signatures, key signatures, scales, beats, rhythm, etc).

Sight reading is also important. Again, stick to very simple sheet music once you're confident with your reading and try to resist playing from memory, the whole point is that when you become proficient you will be instantly able to play anything put in front of you.

My other piece of advice is to take it slllllllllllllooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww. There's nothing worse than failing to grasp what appears to be a simple concept, you'll likely become discouraged and quit. In lieu of this advice, I would suggest avoiding Wikipedia; it is very easy to get carried away with all the pretty glowing links and get ahead of yourself, stick to music theory websites as they tend to address issues chronologically.

Good luck to you
#8
Quote by Torn_Asunder
I got a fear that I'll never be able to learn to read music, guitar or any other instrument. I've been playing for nearly 5 years, with tab and mostly by ear now, and I've only just decided to try learn. The thing is, it's so hard because I just keep working out the tune by ear, especially if it's one I know, and then making the notes on the page useless.
I'm learning the cello as well at the moment hoping that will help but I do the same ear thing on it I'm sixteen and my music teacher always tells me if I'm ever gonna learn to read it should be now, and I'm worried I'm running out of time. Has anyone got any tips or got any knowledge you can give me if you were/are in a similar position? Any help will be much appreciated. Thanks


Cello reads bass clef, and guitar reads treble...so I don't think it'll help you that much...but the main thing is just take it slow, and don't get frustrated. I started learning to read music when I was like 8, so anyone who's not retarded could do it, and it took me 3 or so years to get comfortable, and even then there was a lot I didn't know. So just be patient, this isn't an overnight thing (just imagine trying to learn how to read another language, hard right?) so don't expect immediate results.
#9
It depends on what you are trying to accomplish. If you are wanting to be a music major so you can teach/perform then I would strongly suggest you start to learn. However, most of the influential guitarists of all time didn't sight read. Several musicians that I have played with have trouble improvising because they are so used to sight reading. However, being able to read/count rhythms is something every musician should know. The thing about being able to read that entices me is the ability to play classical music. Having several motives without repeating very much. Sight reading would certainly help,...however the kind of music I would like to create one day would be damn near impossible to read. Something about having to depend on sheet music to play just doesn't sit right with me. When you memorize a musical piece, it becomes a part of you. I'm not advising against it, and I am still not certain if being able to sight read would help me that much. It would help when I'm learning jazz tunes but they are fairly easy to memorize and that is only 10% of the tune. The rest being improvisation. I look at it like this; I have only so many skill points to put into my guitar each day. I choose what I think is gonna be the most beneficial to me. I would rather be Hendrix then the guy that can sight read Hendrix.
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